SCHOOLS have been urged to increase the use of the Scots language as part of a wider drive to improve literacy.


Using Scots in lessons could improve pupils' engagement with learning as well as increasing their understanding of Scottish culture, according to curriculum quango Education Scotland.

Over the past five years, the language has become recognised in the classroom under the Curriculum for Excellence, which calls on schools to support children in maintaining their own first language.

However, there are still negative attitudes towards Scots, with some arguing it is a dialect rather than a language and others believing it to be a slang form of English. An official survey found that nearly two-thirds of the Scottish public do not believe that Scots is a real language.

The report into literacy by Education Scotland said: "Across all sectors, staff are increasingly using Scots and Scottish texts to develop children's and young people's literacy skills.

"The next step for many schools is to plan opportunities for children and young people to use Scots language and Scots and Scottish texts beyond one-off events such as for St Andrew's Day or Burns celebrations.

"Through Scots, learners can explore language in more depth, making connections and comparisons with the linguistic structures and vocabularies of other languages."

The report found Scots could encourage reluctant readers and writers because it could "capture the imagination and speak to them in a familiar voice".

Matthew Fitt, who helps run the Itchy Coo publishing company, which publishes Scots versions of classic novels and children's stories, said that since the 1872 Education Act Scots has been ignored in schools, at an enormous cost to Scotland's culture.

He said: "For children to be told the natural way they speak is wrong negates a very important part of the development of the child and the recent growth of Scots has had a very positive impact.

"I am very proud of that fact more children are reading and enjoying books in Scots than at any point in the last hundred and fifty years."

Overall, the report found there was a lot of good practice in literacy and English in Scotland's schools.

But it concluded: "However, there is still much work to be done to ensure all children and young people leave school with the highest possible levels of attainment in literacy and English.

"Improving attainment is a national priority and improving literacy has an important role in improving attainment across all curricular areas."